Since early February, Interest rates are back on the rise on stronger than expected economic data. This is impacting the housing market, as the average 30-year mortgage rate is back over 7%, last seen in October when mortgage rates set a two-decade high. Subsequently, mortgage applications are down almost 44% year-over-year, the lowest level since 1995. (Source: CNBC, Bankrate.com)
On the international front, China has set their GDP growth target at 5% for 2023. Last year, China generated growth of only 3%, badly missing their 5.5% growth target. A common investment narrative heading into 2023 predicted China to drive global growth as they re-open their economy from strict Covid-19 restrictions, but the conservative growth estimate may dampen enthusiasm. China's growth rate averaged 9% for the 20-year period before the Covid-19 pandemic. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)
This week's focus will be on employment, with January JOLTS (Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey) on Wednesday and the February Monthly Employment Situation group of reports on Friday. The group of reports includes nonfarm payrolls, unemployment, and labor force participation. Additionally, Fed Chair Jerome Powell is set to testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.
CAR INSURANCE ON THE RISE - Car insurance premiums now average over $2,000 a year for the average U.S. driver, a 13.7% increase from the past year. This amounts to approximately 2.9% of the average U.S. household income. (Source: USA Today)
HIDDEN COST OF MARCH MADNESS - College basketball's March Madness begins next week. While the NCAA expects to generate over $1 billion in revenue from the 68-team tournament, it comes at a cost; the corporate losses from distracted workers during March Madness are estimated at $13.8 billion. (Source: WalletHub)
CRYPTO BANK NEXT TO FALL? - Silvergate Capital, a major bank in the crypto space, is delaying the issue of their annual report on concerns stemming from the crypto fallout of 2022. Silvergate lost over $1 billion in 4Q 2022 as customers withdrew over 60% of total deposits following the collapse of FTX. (Source Schwab)
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